Big Changes in the Little Office!

office1

When we left off with the little office, I needed to do one more coat of joint compound in the upper corners where the plaster walls met the drywall ceiling (and then wait for it to dry and then sand it) before I could finally, finally slap some paint on the walls and start finishing this tiny room! When people (internet-folk, friend-folk, insurance-folk) ask me what my “timeline” is for finishing the house, this is pretty much why I just respond with mad side-eye and a condescending laugh. I started work on these walls at the beginning of November. Aside from bathrooms and closets, it’s the smallest room in the house. And even though we got side-tracked with all sorts of things and we aren’t here all the time and I had to completely teach myself how to do some pretty intense plaster repair and skim-coating by myself (with a little help from my internet-friends, of course), STILL. We’re talking three and a half months to even get to the point where I could paint the walls.

BUT. Those walls look good. Like really good. Like, despite my slow speed and rough beginnings, maybe I am a plaster repair prodigy after all. They’re by no means perfect, but that’s a huge part of the appeal of plaster walls. And with the crappy crown molding gone, everything looks really right for this old house, wonky lines and all. I’m really very proud of the whole thing, FYI.

Since the walls became officially prepped and paintable about ten days ago, it’s basically been non-stop action and excitement to get this room looking pretty! From the walls to wallpaper to the door and moldings to stripping hardware to starting work on the floor, I’ve hit that stage where the end product feels very attainable and I really want this room to be finished and I’ll totally give up basic human activity to make it all happen. It all feels very warp-speed after the whole skim-coating ordeal.

One consequence of getting all fast-paced and obsessive is that apparently I forgot I had a blog or that the internet exists or that there is a world outside of this room, so I was really lousy about taking photos of it all as it was happening! So rather than try to cobble together a few posts with one bad iPhone picture each, I figured I’d cobble together a long crazy post with lots of bad iPhone pictures! I’m so pro.

OK, WALLS:

wallprimer

Since you’d want to prime new drywall before painting it, I decided that the same was probably true for freshly skim-coated walls. The joint compound on the surface will suck up an inordinate amount of paint just in the process of sealing everything in, so even if you buy a nicer paint + primer, you really don’t want to be wasting it on this first coat. I used up an entire gallon of Valspar brand drywall primer and then had to switch to a different primer that I had around (just for one coat, and this room is tiny!), but primer is cheap so it wasn’t a big deal.

Even just getting the primer on the walls was cause for mega-excitement and celebration. With skim-coating, you can skim and sand as much as you want, but it can still be hard to tell if the walls are really smooth and good-looking until a coat of paint evens everything out. Seeing everything primed and looking good put months of anxious anticipation to rest. I DID IT. I MADE THE WALLS. THEY LOOK LIKE LEGIT WALLS.

As soon as the primer was dry, I painted my first coat of paint, and as soon as that was dry, I painted my second. I know you’re supposed to wait a certain amount of time between coats and all that, but it was late and I was high on adrenaline and not caring about silly details like that.

The next day, I woke up early and painted a coat of clear wallpaper primer on the wall that I planned to wallpaper. I have zero intentions of ever removing the wallpaper, but just in case I ever do or somebody else does, the wallpaper primer will theoretically aid in the process while also keeping the walls underneath from being destroyed.

THE WALLPAPER:

Admittedly, all of this priming-painting-priming-some-more activity was based upon two simple facts:

1. I was SO EXCITED to put up the wallpaper. I’ve been looking forward to hanging the Diamante pattern in black/gold literally since the day Hygge & West announced their collaboration with Laundry back in November, and I’ve had a roll of it waiting around for this very moment.

2. My friend Emily was visiting, and her mother put up wallpaper professionally for years. Despite that Emily herself wasn’t really involved, at least she’d seen the process taking place. This was more experience than Max or I could boast, so I really wanted to take advantage of her semi-experience before she had to hit the road back to Brooklyn.

wallpaper1

First of all, this wallpaper? Can we just talk about this wallpaper for a minute?

It is beautiful. I swear when the room is done, I’ll take really nice photos of it because it’s hard to really convey how beautiful it is. The gold metallic is the perfect amount of shimmery deliciousness (technical design term), and the pattern is just so good. The scale is just right for the space and I love that it doesn’t really scream any particular style. It’s inspired by a mural in Mexico, but it feels a little bit Art Deco and a little bit Victorian and a little bit psychedelic and a little bit modern and…I just love it.

Overall, hanging the wallpaper wasn’t very difficult, although it was kind of stressful and hectic and fast-paced and I did not have a free hand to take the step-by-step photos I intended to. Since it was only one small wall needing only three pieces of wallpaper, I opted to start by hanging my first section in the middle of the wall so that I wouldn’t end up with a seam in the middle or a small sliver on one side. The basic steps were:

1. Mark the center point of the wall, which will also be the center point of the first piece of wallpaper.

2. Roll wallpaper adhesive paste onto the back of the paper with a paint roller. “Book” the paper by gently folding both ends toward the center. This allows the paper to relax and also lets the paste tack up a bit. I believe the paste instructions said to wait 5-7 minutes, but after finding the first piece a bit dry, we opted to go for a 3-4 minute range.

3. While I stood on a ladder and held the paper from the top, Emily and Max held the level against the wall and the edge of the paper and we all shouted at each other until it was straight. This is probably not the way to do things. We probably should have considered nifty modern inventions like chalk-lines or even just drawing a perfectly vertical pencil line down the wall to align with the edge of the paper, but we didn’t think that far ahead. After the wallpaper was more or less in place, I used a smoothing tool to work the paper flat against the wall, working from the top down and the middle outwards. Then I used a damp wallpaper sponge to remove any excess glue that had seeped out around the edges or made it onto the surface of the paper from the smoothing action.

4. Then I held up the remaining roll of wallpaper from the top to get an idea of where the pattern matched up with the first piece, and then we cut the appropriate length. We weren’t too exacting here since we planned to cut off the excess on the edges anyway. Then we measured the width of the space between the edge of the wallpaper and the corner of the wall, added about an inch (again, so we’d be able to remove the excess, but leaving enough extra to account for irregularities in the wall), and cut off the excess from the piece of wallpaper. Basically you want to get close-ish to the size piece that you’ll need while leaving enough extra to allow for the walls to be weird and not square and all of that.

5. Then we rolled paste onto this second piece, waited, and then I held it again from the top while Max and Emily helped align the pattern at EYE level. Wallpapering is a weird science/art, and for reasons I can’t really grasp, the pattern won’t align perfectly for the entire length of the seam. So it’s important to match it at eye level instead of at the top. Trust. Then we did the same thing with the third piece on the other side.

6. Then we removed the excess wallpaper from around the edges with a snap-off blade utility knife. I used my smoothing tool as an edge to keep my knife straight, and it’s important to work slowly with good pressure to make sure you’re getting a clean cut. You definitely want the blade as sharp as possible, so I snapped the blade to a fresh section between every cut to avoid snagging or tearing the paper (it’s still kind of soft and malleable at this point, since the adhesive is still drying). Sponge off any remaining adhesive on moldings/adjacent walls, and that’s pretty much it!

I bet you want to see how it looks. I bet you’d just love that.

TOO BAD. My pictures are too terrible and I can’t bring myself to post super terrible pictures of this super beautiful wallpaper. It just isn’t fair. (Don’t worry, though. I WILL. And SOON. And there are sneaks of it in the photos below…)

THE MOLDINGS AND THE FLOOR:

floor1

After the wallpaper was up, I turned my attention to the moldings and the floor. I’d already given the floor a thorough cleaning and scraping prior to the wallpaper, and sanded down the rough splintery spots (of which there were many). This floor is kind of a total disaster, but I love it so much nonetheless. In houses as old as ours, the original subfloor would have served as the main flooring material with wall-to-wall rugs on top of it. At some point (or various points—who knows!), all of our flooring was covered with new hardwood flooring (which is really very nice, so no complaints there!), but the floor of this little room wasn’t! It had a few broken down sheets of linoleum when we moved in, but they were never glued down and easily removed, and the only existing coating was a single layer of brown paint.

Still, due to 150-ish years of expansion and contraction and use and abuse, this floor has seen better days. The wood is in pretty rough shape and full of holes and gouges. The gaps between the boards are enormous, and in order to clean the floor, I had to scrape out each gap with a series of pointy tools before vacuuming up clumps of ancient dust and debris that had settled there. And since there is no subfloor under this floor, that means that the gaps are open to the dining room beneath it. So every time I was working in this room, there was a dust storm in the dining room. Once I spilled a glass of water and it made a big puddle on the dining room floor. It made me sort of perversely glad that we currently don’t have a ceiling in there to get water damaged! And also scared me that someday we will have a ceiling, and this floor is basically an open invitation to water damage it.

baseboard1

The gaps between the baseboard moldings and the floor were similarly large! I don’t really like shoe molding around baseboards in old houses (ours has it almost everywhere due to the newer flooring, and it looks fine, but I wish it wasn’t necessary), but unfortunately because of the way the house has settled and stuff over the years, some of the gaps between the baseboards and the floor were like 3/4″! That’s definitely too big of a space to caulk, so base shoe it is!

baseshoe

With my miter saw and nail gun (a housewarming present from my awesome brother!), cutting and installing the base shoe took no time at all. I used a bit of ReadyPatch on the nail holes and corners, which I sanded smooth when it was dry. I don’t like using caulk for nail holes as I find that it sinks down into the hole, but using some type of spackle compound leaves a nice smooth surface after sanding.

floor2

After vacuuming a million times, it was caulking time! I caulked both above and below the base shoe so that it would appear seamless with the baseboard molding and sealed to the floor (which will help keep everything clean and prevent drafts from the exterior wall). I applied the caulk, smoothed it with my finger, and then smoothed it again with a damp cloth to remove any remaining excess caulk. Applying caulk is such a satisfying activity.

(yes, I wrote that last sentence and fully meant all of the words in it and now I’m worried about myself.)

Before I caulked the gaps in the floor, I actually dug around in our pile of construction debris in the garage and pulled some pieces of the super lightweight faux wood paneling from the 70s that we took down from various places in the house. Then I cut them to the width if the spaces between the beams in the dining room ceiling, smeared on some construction adhesive, and nailed them up to the bottom of the subfloor just under this room. This very unglamorous (but free and effective!) solution provided a base for the caulk and paint to adhere to so that I wouldn’t just be shooting caulk into the dining room below.

I know caulking the gaps between the boards might seem like a bad idea, but the gaps are just SO big and deep and impossible to keep clean, and I also really wanted to prevent any future water damage to the future-ceiling below without having to make this room a place where nobody is allowed to bring a water-containing vessel ever. Sealing up the floor will certainly help with that. The caulk really sinks down between the boards, so even after it’s painted it’ll DEFINITELY still look like an old painted tongue-and-groove floor. Just, like, clean and stuff.

primer1

After vacuuming a million more times, it was time for primer! I opted to paint the entire floor and all of the moldings with B-I-N Shellac Base Primer, which is very stinky stuff that really seals everything in and provides a great foundation for finishing coats of paint to adhere to. Especially where good adhesion might be tricky (like painting over moldings with old glossy paint on them already), I think using primer is a good idea. I definitely don’t want this floor chipping, nor do I want any oils from the wood to be seeping through the paint, so I’m glad I used this stuff even if I’m down a few brain cells as a result.

window

Ahhh. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh. Isn’t it starting to look so crisp and real and amazing? I know. I know!

For the walls and moldings, I used paint leftover from the kitchen overhaul. The walls and ceiling are Clark + Kensington brand (from Ace Hardware) Casablanca in flat enamel and the moldings are Designer White in satin enamel. I just want to point out that Casablanca is SUCH a good white. It’s very, very slightly grey but still warm even in natural light, and in artificial light at night it doesn’t go yellow. I love it. It’s crisp enough to satisfy my love of white walls but not at all stark, and feels sympathetic to the age of our house (where super stark white walls could look great, but they’d definitely be more of a look than I really want for myself). I actually think I might use it pretty much everywhere else that we’re planning to paint white, too. I’m still very all-around impressed with the Clark + Kensington paint—it’s great stuff to work with and so reasonably priced at about $30 per gallon. When you’re looking at painting a whole house, the cost savings between a $30 gallon of paint and a $50 or $60 one starts to seem pretty enormous.

I decided to paint the window moldings, but basically leave the window itself alone until I can really restore it. It really needs to be taken out of the frame, stripped, new glazing, primer, paint—it should all happen in warmer months and when more pressing projects are checked off the list. For now I’ll probably hang a roller shade in front of it and you can all take bets on how many years it takes me to get to it.

floorpaint1

Yes. This. We’re getting there. So close I can taste it. First coat of paint on the floor and looking so damn fly.

STILL TO DO:

1. Third coat of paint in a couple of places on the moldings.
2. Two more coats of paint on the floor. (I’m using Benjamin Moore low-sheen Porch and Floor paint in off-the-shelf white).
3. Find/order, hang, caulk, and paint a ceiling medallion and replace the light fixture.
4. Build a floating desktop.
5. Build shelves for space to the left of the chimney.
6. Paint tiny closet door, strip and spray paint hardware, and re-hang door.
7. Reupholster faux-Wegner chair for corner.
8. Buy, cut, and install roller shade for window.
9. Make everything all pretty and stuff.
10. Nap.


100 Comments

  1. I really wish there were more photos of that wallpaper. It looks amazing and you are amazing.

  2. I don’t know why i feel so cool to get the first comment in but I DO! Um, the walls look incredible. Like amazing. You are going to be so pro by the time the house’s walls are done. Great job. Your hard work is paying off! Oh, and the wallpaper choice is perfect.

  3. Wow. Just, wow. Love that wallpaper!
    What’s your plan for the floating desktop, color/wood/etc wise?

  4. Your reveal took my breath away.
    You’ve done an incredible job. I’m beyond impressed, Daniel!

  5. What brand is the Casablanca paint? I went to Ace (because I am dying to see this paint color, I mean who isnt?!) and they had no clue what I was talking about. They couldnt find it anywhere. Gahh!

    • That’s so bizarre! It’s a Clark+Kensington color, which is the high-end brand made by Ace (I believe they have their own Ace paint as well that isn’t as nice). Maybe all Ace Hardwares aren’t carrying the Clark+Kensington paints yet? I have no idea! I’m sorry!

      • Im just gonna assume its dumb old ladies! The Ace right around the corner from my house carries Clark+Kensingtion, I will just have to try another store.

  6. When you show the wallpaper, I’d love to also see some sort of a timeline progression of the room.

  7. Wow! Just wow!

    So before there are hundreds of comments again (how large is your readership by now?) let me just say it is fucking amazing how THOROUGH you are. And considering how well you do all the stuff, you really are quite remarkably quick.

    Are you going to paint the floor white? It already looks so fucking amazing and gorgeous with just the primer on!

    Also: I would love a sort of in-between-mid-progress house tour! Please? Pretty please?

    • Thanks, you! And yes! White! The last picture is actually the first coat of paint after the primer——the porch and floor paint is fairly thin so I think it’ll need 3 coats total.

      I’ve been thinking about doing that! Maybe at the one-year mark? I do like the idea of having a record of the overall progress year by year.

    • Can I second this in-between-mid-progress house tour idea? That would be awesome :)

  8. That’s beautiful! I always envy the cooperation of your boyfriend when you make bold paint/wallpaper/any choices :)

    Also, nail gun! That’s great. I bought one, not realizing how that works and that it needs a compressor to work. So now I have no idea what to do, I’m not exactly planning on renovating a house, just some upholstering, so buying a compressor sounds like an overkill. But also I DON’T WANT TO GIVE IT AWAY it is beautiful and it feels like I really COULD build something very cool with it. CONFLICT.

    • Ha! I think he’s pretty on board most of the time! He trusts me at this point…for the most part.

      Bummer! Do you think there’s a way you could still return it? If you’re just using it for upholstery projects, you may be able to buy a small compressor without spending TOO much (maybe like $50-80) if you search around——it probably says on the gun what the necessary operating PSI is, and for staples and whatnot it should be fairly low, so you don’t need a huge compressor at all. Otherwise, there are good corded options for that kind of thing now, but I think they generally run like $100-$150. I’d definitely read reviews before buying one of those, though, as I’ve heard mixed things about how well different brands work…

  9. oh what a TEASER!!

  10. I just read your entire post to Andy while he’s in bed with a migraine and can’t see…when I got to the pictures I just described them as “it looks just like our moulding, but caulked…and cleaned…and painted” or “it looks just like our floor, but sanded…and smoothed…and loved.” Haha! We’ve both enjoyed your blog so much and look forward to your posts! It’s so fun to watch someone on the same journey. Also, we think you are hilarious and we will likely tell you that over and over again :)

    • Aw, thanks you guys! It’s so fun to see you here instead of on Instagram! Love following what you guys are up to. Feel better, Andy!

  11. I killed a few brain cells myself when using a product to get linoleum off a floor. There were big warning on the can to have very good ventilation which I thought I had. I finally stopped when my lips started feeling numb. That was quite a few years ago and I seem to be functioning okay. Be careful!

    • YIKES! That’s scary!! OK, that DEFINITELY didn’t happen to me, so I guess I’ll stop complaining!

  12. WOW! Just. Wow. No words.
    Unbelievable.

  13. Stunning!

    Respect for your willingness to learn the skills necessary to repair your home properly .. And for your attention to detail.

    I hope you enjoy working at your desk in there!

  14. Blimey what a transformation! It looks beautiful – I’m so impressed with your skills and hard work.

  15. You started in November 2013 and you think that it’s taking forever as of February 2014? You need to cut yourself some slack — you’re making AMAZING progress. I know people who’ve had their houses redone by pros who’ve taken years to do it. You kids are blazing through this.

    • Thanks, Erica. I guess that’s true, and I know all of that on a rational level…I think living in it just makes everything feel like it’s taking forever! Especially when all of the bigger, more public spaces are still waiting to be tackled (and the same or WORSE than when we moved in, like how we’re missing ceilings now or have bare plaster in the hallway, or whatever), I guess it’s just starting to get frustrating that I’m still working on this teensy room! But finishing it is going to feel REALLY good, and using it is going to feel even better, and it really was important to use this space to build some skills that I’ll need during the rest of the renovation, so anyway. I’ll probably always feel like we’re moving too slow—I’m just like that!

  16. Wow.

  17. When i saw the wallpaper post a few months back I thought ‘really beautiful snakeskin’ it looks not as ‘fashionable’ as other wallpapers and therefore timeless. You are flying along! You do know though at this rate you’re going to have to buy another run down property to fix up if only to keep your loyal fans entertained with your fabulous writing style and DIY talent.

    • Ha! I can’t imagine! There’s no way I’m putting this much work into this house to turn around and sell it!! I’m sure all of this will take the better part of the next several years, though, at which point blogs probably won’t exist anyway. :)

      • As long as you are writing Daniel, I will read it! Wonderful job as always.

  18. This looks amazing!! Very excited for the final fancy reveal

  19. Yay! This is SO good. Love the progress you’ve made.

  20. My one fear would be hanging my own wallpaper. I would end up like the episode of I Love Lucy where she tried to wallpaper a room. I would fuss if even one sheet of wall paper is a little missaligned.

    Love how you reused the floors. I keep watching Rehab Addict and how she talks about floors. Love that you slap some color to them and they seem fresh and updated.

  21. So beautiful. I love that you’re as into the details as I am. I’ll be interested to hear if the caulk on the floor works out with shrinking and swelling and stuff.

    Just a warning about the shellac primer. It can over-cure. If you prime something and don’t get back to it in a reasonable time you should re-prime. If the primer has over-cured the paint won’t stick and it will be like you painted acrylic over oil. Yes, disastrous.

    And for people reading, the strong smell of the shellac primer sounds scary but is much less scary than almost any other solvent. It’s just alcohol. It doesn’t linger in your body or in the walls. Given the choice between this and a spray paint or nail polish remover, this is safer.

    • Oh wow, that is really good to know—thank you!!! I had no idea!

      • You might try Zinsser Gardz instead. One of its main uses is sealing new drywall (or skim-coated drywall, as you said) before painting, and it’s water-based. Barely has a smell.

        I used it on the basis of Jack Pauhl’s recommendation (he’s a professional painter who’s put an insane amount of thought into it). See his review here: http://jackpauhl.blogspot.com/2008/12/drywall-primers.html

  22. You have done such a beautiful job in this room….It’s going to be absolute perfection when it’s done.

    I also have to add that as the owner of a grand 1899 Edwardian beauty, I cannot say how much I love reading a blog focused on so thoroughly restoring another historic property. Though my house was in much better condition that yours when you purchased it, I have still had many upkeep/restoration projects to work on (like stripping hardware, restoring all the old original windows, sourcing period-appropriate missing hardware, stripping wallpaper, repairing plaster walls, replacing all the lighting, etc.) I love reading about another family’s experience doing such similar tasks! Keep up the great work and great writing :)

    • Thank you, Lauren! It’s exciting for me to have people who’ve been down this road following along, too! I’ve picked up so much valuable information and encouragement from comments, both of which are hugely helpful in the midst of all of this stuff!

  23. Awesome, absolutely awesome…

  24. Caulk tease.

  25. Those nice smooth walls are a beautiful thing. You do great work!

  26. I have wooden floors ready to sand but it’s a bungalow so not really planning on filling the small gaps. However if needs be, it’s nice to see a different way of filling instead of the usual sanding dust and glue. Cannot wait to see your finished room!

  27. The floor? Uh-mazing:)

  28. Good lord, you baited me in to wanting to see that wallpaper, lol

    I literally lol’ed at “TOO BAD”.

  29. Actually gasped out loud at the last photo and woke up the dog. Wow, you must be swimming in self-satisfaction already, I know I would be going in there just to look at it again all the time. Love your blog and your adventures!

  30. Just lovely. You should be proud of yourself. Really proud.

  31. Oh my goodness, look what you did. I’m in awe of your dive-in fearlessness; took me years just to spray-paint a lamp. (Smart reuse on the cheesy paneling.) You’re gonna love working in the beautiful, tranquil haven you’re creating. When the time comes, put yourself in a few pix there.

  32. Your determination is impressive and inspiring. GO YOU!

  33. I just love this blog, it makes me so happy! Great job on all of this hard work! I love the end results of course, but I also really like your tales of progress. Best of luck on finishing the rest of this room and telling us all about it.
    K

  34. It’s looking SO good! I feel you on the base shoe… not a fan of it either, but as we replace ALL the baseboards in our old, old house, we have to use it as well. We have a lot of gaps just as large as yours due to all the settling over the last 100+ years, and caulk alone just isn’t enough. Boo!

  35. SO GOOD!!! Seriously. So.so.good. I’m excited to see it all done. :D

  36. Gorgeous! Cheering! Hooray for your persistence & hard work!

  37. those walls… that floor… the sneak peak of the gorgeous wall paper… this is amazing!!

  38. That wallpaper is so sexy. I want that pattern in clothes, textiles, everything. It’d look so good on a tunic dress or leggings… but I guess I can live with seeing it on your future beautiful office wall. :)
    Anyway – damn you’re putting in some work on this! Good job on sorting out all the dirty prep work, can’t wait to see how it progresses!

  39. HIGH FIVE!

  40. Holy Cannoli, this is stunning already! Cannot contain the excitement to see finished photos!

  41. Gorgeous! Can’t wait to see the big reveal!

  42. Please move to my country. Now. I will marry you, Max can come too, I’m not the jealous type :). We’ll figure out what to do with my husband and three kids. Oh, don’t worry about your dog, he will get along perfectly with my cat.

    Sigh.

  43. You are totally not crazy for saying that caulking is intensely satisfying. I am the half-proud-half-crazy owner of an old house in Toronto and when we moved in, the original baseboards on the main floor had been replaced with ONE-INCH mdf trim. Ugh. It was even upside down. (The upstairs is still original, thankfully, but I still think about all the bad things I want to do to the previous owners). It took me months to get around to it but I spent a weekend cutting new 7.5-inch baseboards & quarter-round (what we call shoe trim here) and nail-gunning everything in and, finally, caulking those babies up to make everything look seamless and perfect. I went insane. My husband forced me to stop at 1 AM because I was in a “caulk craze” (ahem). Caulking might be my favourite thing to do, period. Now I sometimes look at my baseboards and fall into a contented trance.

    So deeply impressed with what you’ve done hear and can’t wait to see the final reveal.

  44. So jealous of your plastering skills. Covering/smoothing gross knock down texture on my 157 year old walls, just about did me in. Still doing some, trying to be zen about the imperfections. My girlfriend says they look like 150 year old plaster walls, so, I guess that’s somewhat okay, since that IS what they are, lol. The perfectionist in me would live for them to Nobel perfectly perfect, however. Love watching your progress!

  45. OMG! Isn’t it amazing what a fresh coat of paint will do?! ahaha amongst other things… ;)

  46. I love how you are so completely obsessive about the details-the end results are so crisp and good-really looking forward to this reveal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  47. Awesome job on those walls. Smooth as a baby’s bottom! Gorgeous wallpaper. Your posts are making me miss my old 1888 Victorian house.

  48. You are the best. Just the best. And, like I said on I-gram, I LOVE that floor. And I was super relieved when you caulked it.

  49. Daniel, your walls look amazing. You should be proud! I love the small peek of the wallpaper, can’t wait to see the full wall. I love old houses, you just don’t see that kind of character anymore, and I love that this one has someone who loves it too, and wants to see her looking her best :)

  50. My gosh, I love the wallpaper! Stunning. Looking forward to see it in its entire beauty.

  51. this is just beautiful. the idea of bringing order and love back to the little room, after 150 years, is bigger than both of us. upcycling as resurrection? thanks, this is beautiful.

  52. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

    So good. I have painted white wood floors and I wish I had caulked in between. Because my cats have since barfed in the cracks. I never really thought about that before it was too late…and now I call it “character”.

  53. I never minded a little shoe at the base of big baseboards, once caulked and painted it adds a little “somethin’ somethin’.” Especially with the detail at the top of the baseboard. Looks meant to be. Can’t wait to see finished photos!
    Oh yeah the main point of my comment was that outlet is begging for a brass-look outlet cover to coordinate with the wallpaper! Would be very posh indeed.

  54. Someone once told me that the way to estimate how long any project would take is to:

    1) estimate how long it will take.
    2) double the estimate.
    3) move to the next highest unit of measure.

    So: you think it will take 2 weeks, it will take 4 months. You estimate 3 days, it will take 6 weeks.

    Depressingly, I’ve found this to be a fairly accurate way to estimate most of the things I do.

    The room looks wonderful. I can’t wait to see the final result.

  55. It looks so incredible! I really admire your skills and you have such great taste in everything.

  56. as a microcosm for the rest of the house – this room rocks! cant wait for the full reveal.

    i think you needed a COMPLETE room done! (i know i would at this point) and this was a great one to pick – you have worked thru all the steps and now just wait!

    looking forward to the full photos of that GORGEOUS wallpaper…

  57. I love that wallpaper and such a great spot for it, too. Floors already look tons better – I can’t wait to see it all done.

  58. Pretty fly for a white guy…I mean floor.

    This room looks amazing so far. Keep it up buddy, keep it up.

  59. This looks amazing! I am also fixing up an old house myself and it amazes me the things I am doing but then you do much better! I recently also spent a long time repairing the moldings in my hallway, put in new shoe molding (also due to LARGE gaps) and ended up filling in some spaces with woody putty, not caulk. Not really sure if that’s the right way, but it seemed to work for me. Can’t wait to see how this room turns out!

  60. I follow you religiously,well maybe more spiritually :-) Love the way you dig in to every project and I’m doing the same thing with my 850 s.f. craftsman in Los Angeles that I purchased as a “fixer upper” about three years ago. With that said the bathroom was the beginning of the renovation and the “master craftsman” that did the framework, installed new windows and drywall is truly a craftsman and a master in some areas. The mudding and drywall is not up to the “master” standar, in my opinion, because the smoothness at the tape is not up to par. Do you have any suggestions about how to smooth out the rough patches that are leaving an uneven surface where the tape and mud were applied in some places, especially because I’m using metallic paint which reveals imperfections with a vengence. Thankful for any information to remedy this problem.

    Keep up the good work. Your house looks fabulous and I applaud your get it done and done right attitude. Kudos. They call me “Sassy.”

    • Thanks, Sassy!

      Unfortunately, I’m worried the only way to really eliminate that unevenness is to skim-coat over the whole wall, basically trying to build up the areas that weren’t mudded and taped to the same level as the areas that were. I really have no experience with that, though!! There may be other resources online that have a better answer, or other commenters who know much more than I do? Sorry I can’t be more helpful there!

  61. that wallpaper is gorgeous! can’t wait to see the whole room. I would also like to see the view from below, from the dining room, because I am not sure I can rely on my ability to imagine the situation down there with that faux paneling in between the beams under the subfloor which is actually a floor… :)

  62. Oh Daniel! It’s really coming together beautifully! I love it.

    One word on shoe molding (cause I hate it too), you might want to use something called “door stop” molding. It’s not a quarter round but rather flat. It was used all over our 1924 house and I so love the look. There is a slight decorative bead at the top, but not too fussy, bust most importantly, it’s flat! And it’s taller than quarter round. And it looks more architecturally appropriate. I know, that seems nitpicky and finicky but it’s those little details that make me happiest.

    I can’t wait to see the room in its entirety.

    • Thank you, I will check that out!! I spent so long in that section of the hardware store trying to find a way around it…the base shoe is actually different than quarter-round (quarter-round is literally a quarter of a cylinder, but base shoe is higher on the rise than the run) and better looking, but still not great. If I could find something better for the rest of the house, that’d be great.

  63. WOW this looks fantastic so far! I can’t wait to see the pictures with the wallpaper.

  64. Ah, I always loved reading Manhattan Nest but looking forward to a little victory every week with the restoration is weirdly great. I just want to add my voice to the clamour for a mid-project tour – I’m having a hard time putting together these disparate pictures to figure out what’s where and why and how and what day is it and what am I even wearing. You know?

  65. Like so many before me, i just have to say “wow”, what a difference a little paint makes! Also a pretty clever find with the caulk in the seams between the boards. Are you going to paint until it’s completely white? I think the white-stained-look as it is now might look a little better than completely white, but it also depends on what you have in the other rooms…

    Can’t wait to see what that wallpaper turned out!

  66. OMG that wallpaper!

  67. I’d say “Wow,” but I think that word was already abused. I searched for the word “adore” and I didn’t find it on this page at all so let me say I adore that wallpaper. Definitely a little deco, a little art nouveau but in a modern colorway. Nice choice.

    I also adore the “standing on the ladder holding the level up to the wallpaper and yelling at each other until it was straight” gig. That’s some funny shit; I laughed out loud. Well told.

  68. There is some sort of magic happening in the picture of the gappy baseboard and floorboards that makes it look like you are standing on a wide dock overlooking an snowy water scene. The floorboards are the dock, the chip of paint missing is a sandy beach, and top of the baseboard is the snowy bank. (And there’s maybe some kind of bird floating off to the left?)

    I can’t be the only one who sees this!

    Anyways, the walls. The floors. They are INCREDIBLE. It’s becoming hard to imagine how each of the rooms in the house started out because you are breathing such life back into the entire home! Can’t wait to see pics of the finished office!

  69. 1-Terrific and dedicated work Daniel.
    2-I remember an episode of “This Old House” where Norm Abrams showed an old technique for filling the floorboard openings with various sizes of jute twine and/or rope, depending on the size. The jute was pushed in for a snug fit with a screwdriver, but not pushed down into the hollow below.
    3-Will you really be able to exist in this day and age with one wall outlet?
    Keep up the good work.

    • 1-thanks!
      2-that’s fascinating! I think caulk will be much better for a painted floor with gaps this big, but that’s a good thing to keep in mind for future projects. Thanks!
      3-there’s another outlet on the other side of the room next to the door, which seems like enough! The room is only about 5×8…I can’t imagine we’ll need to plug in much more than a laptop charger and a lamp. We’re still in the process of adding more outlets throughout the house, though, so I suppose it’s possible (though unlikely) that we’ll add another in this room.

  70. Oh, can’t wait to see the finished room! What have you designated the bigger room the office opens onto? A home studio or guest room? It’s looking very sharp!

  71. You should get the award for MOST HARD WORK put in to fix your home! Really impressive! The suspense as I scroll down your pictures! Also, thanks for your pictures of your darling dog. So great. And your story about your life with your dog. Thank you!

  72. I hope you remember about the internet existing again to come back and read comments, but I just have to say that I cannot even handle that wallpaper, and if you’d have showed photos of it hung up, my head would’ve exploded from all the metallic goodness, so it’s probably for the best that you’re a giant tease.

    PS: I had to click over and say hi from the AT Homies — we’re side-by-side up there, which I was pretty excited and honored about, because my first “real” project was an upholstered bed which was inspired in part by your DIY platform bed from forever ago. Best of luck! Your blog rocks!

  73. The finished room looks AMAZING. I also love love love your kitchen, which I used as inspiration for a kitchen I just remodeled (I hope you don’t mind). That leads me to the point of this comment: the floor. I laid a plank plywood floor in my kitchen (aiming for the old plank style on a tight budget) and am just about ready to paint it white. I have been putting it off because I can’t stand the idea of more sanding and more dust at the moment, and every site I have read says that you MUST sand between each coat . . . ugh! Is that what you did? Tell me there is a way to make the finish nice and smooth without getting down on my hands and knees with an orbital sander after each coat of paint.

    • Oh, I did not do that! Maybe that’s better for certain types of paints, but I really don’t think it’s necessary for the BM latex floor paint. I DID make sure I vacuumed very thoroughly and cleaned between each coat, but that’s it! I obviously can’t attest to the long-term durability since I just finished, but the finish is definitely nice and smooth and it seems very well adhered!

      (for what it’s worth, my friend Anna used the same paint on her floor years ago, and she doesn’t mention sanding between coats, either. Her floor is BEAUTIFUL!)

  74. Hi there! I am slightly confused about one thing: when you say “no shoes policy” do you mean that you normally wear shoes in your house? Are they shoes that you wear outdoors too, or are they special indoor shoes (kind of like slippers)?

    Thanks!

    • Sometimes we were shoes, yes! For some reason I always take my shoes off at other people’s houses, but I don’t always in my own. I’ve been trying to get better about not wearing shoes in the house, but it doesn’t really come naturally——I grew up in a family where wearing shoes in the house was totally normal, despite the obvious benefits of losing them at the door! Part of the reason a no-shoe policy is difficult at the house right now is because there seems to be an unending amount of dust from the demo and bare plaster walls, so things are just dirty regardless, and you really don’t want to be doing renovation projects barefoot.

      I’ve also noticed that wearing or not wearing shoes in the house is a very cultural thing, too——in Judaism, for example, wearing socks in the house is reserved for times of mourning. My parents grew up in houses where that was observed…I didn’t, but they had their habits from growing up that also became mine. It’s also very reliant on geography——at least in North America, taking shoes off is MUCH more common in the northern US and Canada where it snows a lot and tracking it into the house is obviously a much bigger deal than in the south, where weather isn’t so bad.

      ANYWAY, very long answer to a short question! Point is, ideally we wouldn’t wear shoes, but sometimes we do. But not in this room. :)

  75. I absolutely love this little renovation. Such a great use of your space!

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